President Trump’s comments towards Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl on the campaign trail and as president were argued by the defense to be “problematic,” and claimed will sway jurors to not give Bergdahl a fair trial. After much deliberation, the judge decided to keep the case moving.
The judge in the case, Army Col Jeffery Nance, ruled Friday that Trump didn’t violate Bergdahl’s due-processing by repeatedly calling him a “dirty rotten traitor” and would not opinionate the jury one way or another.
Nance noted that the comments made by Trump were “disturbing and disappointing” but it didn’t constitute unlawful or have influence in the matter.
In short, Nance agreed with the argument put forth by the prosecutor that the controversial remarks could be chalked up to campaign rhetoric.
“The accused was merely the foil for delivering that political message,’ Nance wrote. ‘All reasonable members of the public and potential panel members will know that was what he was doing and will not allow the rhetoric to affect their impartiality.”
To meet a fair medium between the defense and prosecutor, Nance said he would allow leeway for juror selection by the defense that can allow intense vetting with their questions. If they deem that Trump’s remarks towards Bergdahl did influence a juror, they can be removed.
Nance continued with his address citing: “We have a man who eventually became President of the United States and Commander in Chief of all the armed forces making conclusive and disparaging comments, while campaigning for election, about a soldier facing potential court-martial. … The Court recognizes the problematic potential created by these facts.”
The defense representing Bergdahl says he and his team will contest this decision “vigorously.” In 2009, Bergdahl abandoned his post and was eventually captured by the Taliban.
Shortly after President Obama arranged for the released of Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban members, a decision that was highly scrutinized by Republicans at the time.